On the flight earlier this week, I did find time to read it. Overall, it's good and not especially radical. Most importantly for Dean's campaign, he framed his Iraq critique around issues that will assuredly resonate with his voters without much chance of unpredictable events throwing his campaign for a loop.
The difficulties and tragedies we have faced in Iraq show that the administration launched the war in the wrong way, at the wrong time, with inadequate planning, insufficient help, and at unbelievable cost. An administration prepared to work with others in true partnership might have been able, if it found no alternative to Saddam's ouster, to then rebuild Iraq with far less cost and risk....That's a solid critique, and somewhat similar to the one offered by Wesley Clark.
Empowered by the American people, I will work to restore:
The legitimacy that comes from the rule of law;
The credibility that comes from telling the truth;
The knowledge that comes from first-rate intelligence, undiluted by ideology;
The strength that comes from robust alliances and vigorous diplomacy;
And, of course, I will call on the most powerful armed forces the world has ever known to ensure the security of this nation.
Later in the speech, Dean used a telling phrase that might just catch on as a counter to the Bush administration's "coalition of the willing." Dean prefers "coalitions of the able," which includes NATO and Asian alliance partners.
Dean also calls for a new "global alliance to defeat terror," which is apparently like the "war on terror," but with closer connections to other states. The globalization of America's foreign policy would begin with Iraq:
To succeed we also need urgently to remove the label "made in America" from the Iraqi transition. We need to make the reconstruction a truly international project, one that integrates NATO, the United Nations, and other members of the international community, and that reduces the burden on America and our troops.A fair amount of attention was devoted to discussing genuine terror threats that receive too little attention post 9/11, such as the problem of "loose nukes" (and other WMD materials) from the former Soviet Union. Dean calls for expanding the Nunn-Lugar program, for example.
As I said, in all, it's a solid speech, focusing on genuine high priority concerns, but based on multilateral principles. Indeed, process explains a great deal of the difference dividing Democrats from the Bush administration on foreign policy.
Democrats like Dean and Clark agree that terrorism and WMD are high priority threats, but they do not think the US should consider using force without compliance with global norms. They prefer sharing burdens, building strong coalitions with all the key allies, and addressing a variety of terror threats (not merely those emanating from rogue states).
Note: Larry Solum links to an article coauthored by my friend Avery Kolers, "Towards a Pluralist Account of Parenthood" (published in Bioethics, apparently).